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NFPA 70E Major Updates for the 2012 Edition – Part 2.

Although beginning with an erratic schedule with revisions to NFPA 70E being spaced anywhere from 2 to 5 years apart, this very important electrical safety standard is now on a regular 3 year revision cycle. In early 2011, I wrote an article about the significant changes that were about to be part of the 9th Edition, the 2012 Edition of NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. This article will take us a little further into the standard and address some changes that I was not able to include in the previous article.

110.3(G)(1) Job Briefing
New language was added to make information from the energized electrical work permit (when required) part of the job briefing.

110.3(H)(1) Electrical Safety Program
Previously the frequency of auditing the electrical safety program was determined by the employer. Now the frequency of the audit shall not exceed 3 years.

110.4(C) Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter (GFCI) Protection
A new section was added that requires employees to be provided with GFCI protection where required by state, federal and local codes and standards. In addition, protection requirements are also defined when an employee is using cord and plug connected equipment outdoors.

110.5 Underground Electrical Lines and Equipment
A new requirement was added regarding identifying and marking the location of electrical lines and equipment, and for performing a hazard analysis if there is a reasonable possibility of contacting electrical lines or equipment during the excavation.

130.3(C) Equipment Labeling
The 2009 Edition required “either the available incident energy OR the required level of PPE” to be on the label. Based on an earlier draft of the 2012 edition, it seemed like we were headed towards similar language with “select only one”. However the final language was changed to “select at least one of the following” and includes:
· Available incident energy and the corresponding working distance
· Minimum arc raging of clothing
· Required level of PPE
· Highest Hazard/Risk Category for the equipment
In addition, the nominal system voltage and arc flash boundary are also required to be listed on the label.

This revision provides the user more flexibility about what information is included on the label.

130.7(A) Personal and Other Protective Equipment – Informational Note
A new informational note was added that describes how normal operation of enclosed electrical equipment operating at 600 volts or less that has been properly installed and maintained is not as likely to expose a person to an electrical hazard.

205.2 Single Line Diagram
New text “in a legible condition and shall be kept current” was added to the existing requirement of maintaining a single line diagram. This addition helps emphasize that the diagram needs to remain up-to-date and reflect the current electrical system.

Informative Annexes

Although the requirements of NPFA 70E are found in the first 56 pages that make up the standard’s three chapters, 16 informative annexes also contain a lot of important information. Although not officially part of the requirements of NFPA 70E, the 41 pages of annexes provide guidance ranging from calculation methods to hazard risk evaluation procedures to guidance in the selection of arc-rated protective clothing and personal equipment. Several of the annexes had significant changes and a new annex was added.

Informative Annex D – Incident Energy and Arc Flash Boundary Calculation Methods
An arc flash hazard analysis often includes performing incident energy and arc flash boundary calculations. Annex D contains several methods that can be used including many equations from IEEE 1584, IEEE Guide for Performing Arc Flash Hazard Calculations

Two significant additions were made to this annex. The first is to incorporate what the industry refers to as the “2 second rule” from IEEE 1584. Depending on various conditions such a person’s ability to quickly move away from the arc flash, the use of a 2 second cut off for the arc flash duration may be used in the calculations.

The second change is the addition of an equation for calculating the incident energy from a dc arc flash. Additional technical papers and research related to dc arc flash are also referenced in this section.

Informative Annex F – Hazard Analysis, Risk Estimation, and Risk Evaluation Procedure
This annex has been greatly expanded to provide guidance for risk assessment which includes risk estimation and risk evaluation. This approach can be helpful in determining the appropriate protective measures necessary to reduce the probability of harm occurring in the circumstances under consideration.

Informative Annex G – Sample Lockout/Tagout Procedure
This annex provides guidance for the development of Lockout/Tagout procedures that satisfy the requirements found in 120.2 of NFPA 70E. Similar to 120.2, “Individual Employee Control Procedure” has been deleted as one of the methods that can be used. Only two methods are now listed including both simple and complex lockout (tagout) procedures.

Informative Annex H – Guidance on Selection of Protective Clothing and Other Personal Protective Equipment
This annex previously outlined a simple two category approach for flame-resistant (now arc-rated) clothing systems. It has now been expanded into four sections. The first section is for the selection of arc-rated clothing and other personal protective equipment (PPE) when hazard/risk categories are used. The second section outlines the use of a simplified two category approach – similar to the 2009 edition. The third section provides guidance for the selection of appropriate arc-rated clothing and PPE based on the incident energy exposure The fourth section provides a two level approach for arc-rated clothing and PPE selection based on knowing the bolted short circuit current, protective device clearing time and voltage.

Informative Annex J – Energized Electrical Work Permit
Article 130.2(B)(2) defines the requirements of the energized electrical work permit (EEWP). A few changes were made to these requirements and the sample EEWP contained in Annex J was revised to reflect the changes.

Informative Annex M – Layering of Protective Clothing and Total System Arc Rating
New language was added that states non arc-rated garments should not be used to increase the arc rating of a garment or clothing system.

Informative Annex O – Safety Related Design Requirements
A new section was added regarding Arc Energy Reduction. The new text refers to the use of circuit breakers that are rated or can be adjusted to 1000 amperes or more. A list is provided of effective arc flash energy reducing methods which includes: zone-selective interlocking, differential relaying and an energy reducing maintenance switch with a local status indicator. These three methods are the same as those referenced in Section 240.87 of the 2011 Edition of the National Electrical Code.

Informative Annex P – Aligning Implementation of This Standard with Occupational and Safety Management Standards
This new annex has been added to provide guidance for implementing NFPA 70E within the framework of ANSI/AIHA Z10 and other recognized occupational health and safety management system standards.

Have a Good Idea?
Of the 103 pages that make up the 2012 Edition of NFPA 70E, one of the more important pages does not have a page number. It is the last page and is titled “NFPA Document Proposal Form”. NFPA 70E continues to improve with every revision cycle. Often the improvements are a result of someone having a good idea and submitting it as a proposal. This revision cycle had 548 proposals. How many will there be during the next cycle? Get your proposals ready and let the good ideas flow!

By Jim Phillips | Brainfiller, Inc. |
Originally Published: January 2012 | Electrical Contractor Magazine